Smith Street Action Group's take on development

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Smith Street Action Group's take on development
Image © Neometro

Last Thursday Urban Melbourne glossed over 16 separate residential projects within close proximity to, or located on Smith Street which bisects Collingwood and Fitzroy. Later that day we received a press release from the Smith Street Action Group entitled "Rear Window becomes Next Window as Inappropriate Density Invades."

A full copy of the media release is available for reading.

SSAG's release is worth reading and carries some valid points. "Appropriate gentrification is good, considering that living spaces do allow people to live well" is their overall stance, however the approved 237 Smith Street development has raised the group's level of discontent.

I'll play the devil's advocate today in order to further explore the issues at hand by posing a series of questions.

Smith Street Action Group's take on development

Free market

A 6 level building, proposed to sit atop the hugely popular Messina Gelato, 237 Smith Street is an example of the new micro and highly dense apartment building that will soon populate Melbourne’s inner suburbs.

Are apartment buyers/investors required to purchase micro and highly dense apartments? Last I checked, no. 33 square metre apartments are insanely small, yet if the developer sees fit to cater for (perceived) demand by adding micro apartments to their development profile, good luck to them. The market will dictate whether this is an act of frivolity or otherwise.

Lines of sight and sighting the sun

“The building has sight lines directly into my apartment, not only does it completely cancel my northside view, but what I will be serving for dinner will be clearly visible to my neighbours, they will be able to count the peas on my plate.” Owen Harris

What can I say? To lessen confusion, 231 Moor Street and 231 Smith Street occupy the same buildings - Panama House on the intersection of Smith & Moor. Directly north of the recently completed Panama House apartment conversion at 231 Smith Street will sit 237 Smith Street.

One obscured light well (material 9 in image below) and one 700mm high glazed southeast corner window are the only non precast/metal areas to the southern boundary. Unless Inspector Gadget is counting your peas, overlooking is a moot point. Having said that the prospect of being greeted by a blank wall every day is somewhat depressing.

Smith Street Action Group's take on development

Developer on the cross

231 Moor Street developers Neometro were given written notice for 237 Smith Street proposal as early as September 2012 and the 229 Smith Street development as early as March 2013 and did not inform their purchasers.

What place for Caveat emptor? I was always under the impression that developers had no requirement to inform buyers of proposed neighbouring developments, rather the onus was on the individual - after all the burden rests with the individual buying the property to consider and essentially accept that at some point in the future, a development may encroach upon their amenity and views. "Views are a privilege, not a right."

Why attempt to hold Neometro to account when the rest of the industry does not operate to that standard.

Paterson's conversion

Smith Street Action Group's take on development

Is this an acceptable development? One that escaped attention in last week's article is the conversion of the most magnificent Patersons Building from a general arts/office space into private apartments. The redeveloped apartments will be positively spacious compared to what is proposed for 237 Smith Street yet will prospective buyers for The Patersons consider that airspace surrounding their complex may be lost in years to come...unlikely.

Ultimately as much as action groups serve their purpose and highlight poor outcomes in both planning and development, from a buyer's perspective future disputes and disappointments can be for the most avoided by genuinely considering the dynamics of the location of your intended purchase both now and into the future. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

Feel the need to disagree, correct or corroborate any of the above content by posting a comment below.

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Discussion (24 comments)

Laurence Dragomir's picture

It's worth noting that the Cairo flats on Nicholson Street, for example, were built in the '30's and have units as small as 25sqm. And people live there quite happily.

Bilby's picture

I think this article misses the point, to some extent, of what the Smith St. Action Group are trying to draw attention to. Spare a thought for the residents and owners of 227 Smith St., for example. The apartments at this site were built at a time (perhaps 7 or 8 years ago?) when there was no reasonable expectation of the kind of scale, height and massing of buildings on Smith Street that we are now seeing. Some of the north facing apartments and outdoor areas at 227 Smith Street will be plunged into a virtual canyon, facing a high (white painted) wall, where previously they enjoyed solar access and views of trees and buildings. The developer's TP representative makes the following comments in relation to the developments effect on its neighbours:

"While there are existing dwellings to the immediate south of the site, the submitted report entitled “Daylight impact of proposed development at 229 Smith Street, Fitzroy on existing apartments at 227 Smith Street, Fitzroy" includes the following conclusion:
It is clear that the proposed building at 229 Smith Street will reduce daylight availability to the existing apartments at 227 Smith Street. The calculations reveal that direct sunlight will be significantly reduced, especially during winter when the sun is lower in the sky and the proposed building will shadow the existing apartments for the majority of the day. Overall the daylight available to the existing apartments (including light from direct sun, clear skies and overcast skies) will be just under a third of the daylight available in the existing condition.
Under overcast skies the proposed building has an impact on the daylight available to the existing apartments, however the impact is not as dramatic as under clear skies. This is due to the overall luminous effect of an overcast sky, as opposed to the direct light from the sun. The reflectance of the wall will play a role in directing light from the southern half of the sky into the existing apartments under overcast sky conditions.

The effect of increasing the reflectance of the wall finish to the proposed building is noticeable as shown in figures 9 to 14, and it is worth achieving the highest possible reflectance on this wall. Reflectances for external finishes are likely to be lower than internal finishes due to weathering and fading, however the highest possible reflectance should be the aim. A reflectance of 70% (as modelled above) or higher should be achievable. The owners of the existing apartments may wish to have input into the final colour chosen for the wall.
There are no specific guidelines for the quantity of daylight that residential buildings should have access to, and there are no specific rights to light in Australian law. As such, it is difficult to state that the quality and quantity of daylight available to the existing apartments at 227 Smith Street is ‘adequate’ or otherwise under the proposed conditions. The amount of daylight available does not render the spaces ‘dark’ in any sense; there is still sufficient light for safe movement and general domestic tasks."


Mark Baljak's picture

More than anything I was trying to draw some meaningful discussion; in that respect a very good reply.

Light issues aside, the idea of having an huge inactive wall a few metres away (if I were a north facing apartment in 231 Smith Street) from my terrace/balcony would be enough for me to sell up.

We will disagree but I think the most important aspect of apartment living is carefully considering what will occur within the immediate vicinity within years to come when buying. Complaints such as the SSAG's media release are so common; it pays to do your homework or at least have an understanding of the area you intent to purchase in.

Illan Samuel's picture

Two words: Equitable Development.

Consider it when purchasing (as Mark suggested) and consider it when objecting or reviewing an application (as Bilby) hasn't.

Lazzreroni's picture

Gentrification is hastily ruining Collingwood and these nasty buildings are a symptom of developers greed trying to cash in on the ‘flavour of the month’ until it becomes just like everywhere else. When the Subway restaurant opened knew all hope was lost.

I don’t know Owen’s full circumstances and may be a little presumptuous but are you contributing to the problem by purchasing an apartment in what has visually destroyed a historic building and complaining about the same occurrence next door which is affecting your amenity?

I do identify; who wouldn’t be upset in your situation? As a Collingwood resident for 10 + years, I can relate as I have huge new developments on each side of me. My walls are cracking from the compacting and I’m not looking forward to the hundreds of new residents arriving in a couple of years.

Unfortunately it’s buyer beware…. As Bilby mentioned, the residents of 227 Smith St bought before the gentrification wave when the building next door was still an ANZ bank. No one expected what was going to happen in such a short period of time. Should they be treated any different (or deserve our sympathy) to those in 237?

Bilby's picture

Illan, I'm not really sure what you mean by 'equitable development' as a principle to guide a review of a development. Can you elaborate on this? I certainly don't see the development of a 7 storey building and associated blank multi-storey wall to the north boundary of a lower-rise apartment development as 'equitable' in any way. At the time the first development was constructed, there was no reason to believe that such a tall building would rise to the north of 227 Smith Street - particularly one so poorly designed in response to the existing residential amenity of this section of the street. If your argument is that prospective buyers should be able to identify how intensive the future development around their property might be, recent changes to the planning scheme should be enough to illustrate that this is simply not possible. Who would have predicted that the Banco development on Smith Street would have gotten permission to demolish important heritage buildings to enlarge their proposed supermarket? Who would have predicted the re-zoning of vast areas of Melbourne to an 8-metre height limited residential zone? And who would have predicted 7 storey developments proliferating without respect for overshadowing of neighbouring properties just 7-10 years ago? Just because certain outcomes are not prohibited in a planning scheme, doesn't mean that buyers should have to factor in all possibilities. Victoria's planning scheme is a very loosely constructed set of regulations - it remains possible for 80 storey towers to pop up on Smith Street under the current zoning arrangements. Should prospective buyers factor in this (remote) possibility in their purchase of an apartment or house in the area? And would such an outcome be 'equitable' just because it is allowable under the current planning scheme? I certainly don't think so, and nor do I believe that walling in existing residents represents 'equitable' development either.

johnproctor's picture

^ he means that the new Messina development is no more physically intense than the existing Panama Dining Room development in which 'Owen' lives. Therefore it is equitable to allow the same physical size development on the adjoining sites. It is more 'intense' in the number of apartments but not more intense in the size of hte development and may actually be no more intense in the number of people living there.

If as Smith Street action group says these tiny apartments are unliveable unless you're an international student there might be 1 person per dwelling (about 30 total across 30 apartments). Next door the larger more spacious apartments which are suitable for gentrified 'australian' living could have a wealthy middle class couple living in them so 2 people per dwelling across about 15 apartments = 30 people total as well.

I live in Collingwood and can't wait for these people to move in and this development to happen.

1. It will mean Smith Street becomes activated across a greater period of hte day and hopefully/probably all the way up to Queens Parade not stopping at about Easey Street as it does now (and even that has only really happened the last 18 months shifting down from the Gertrude end). It will also mean Johnston Street continues to have its tenancy rate increase hopefully with more great cafes (bayte, bluebird, ritas) and refurbished pubs (Yarra Hotel and the Birmy which I understand used to be a very 'inviting' venue full of very 'friendly' people) giving more amenity for residents... hell COllingwood might even get a half decent fish and chip shop at some point!

2. the developments will lead to investment in the heritage buildings themselves. Many of the buildings are visibly falling apart and I'd rather keep the buildings and have a few extra apartments built into them than let the buildings rot for another 5-10 years and just get demolished.

Meanwhile the Smith Street Action Group need not fear that their 'leafy suburb' (I must have missed all the greenery in Collingwood????) will be destroyed as 95% of this development won't occur in the streets of cottage houses but instead as is completely appropriate at places like 231/237 Smith Street fronting wihtin about 50m of a tram stop and a supermarket and all the other services and in amongst the old warehouses between Wellington and Smith and along Johnston. The little cottage houses are safe!!

johnproctor's picture

I certainly don't see the development of a 7 storey building and associated blank multi-storey wall to the north boundary of a lower-rise apartment development as 'equitable' in any way

in what world is the 6 storey panama development 'lower-rise' than the 7 storey Messina development?

Benizmo's picture

Its certainly a bit rich complaining when you live in a newer development which may block/affect other people who have lived there for much longer.

As a local resident I'm with John in that we need density to increase, so long as the planning process is through and consistent I dont have a problem with these types of developments.

Some ppl will be greatly affected, which is a shame, if you look at 134-166 smith street, which will destroy views and light for much of the little oxford street residents behind. And the development on Johnston St, similarly for the Macrobertson Close residents behind

As for Fish and Chips, we had a great place on Smith street 10 years ago, unfortunately the packed it in about 7 years ago.

Bilby's picture

John Proctor and Benizmo, I wasn't talking about the Panama (Pattersons Building) development or the historic Tye's Building development right next to it. I clearly said "229 Smith Street". My comments stand. See below (particularly the East Elevation shown in the plans):

Bilby's picture

John, you say "Many of the buildings [on Smith St.] are visibly falling apart and I'd rather keep the buildings and have a few extra apartments built into them than let the buildings rot for another 5-10 years and just get demolished." This is something of a straw man argument. There is no question of "demolition" for any of these heritage listed structures - they are protected under the local Heritage Overlay. If owners fail to maintain their buildings, that is called "demolition by neglect" and while not exactly illegal, is extremely selfish and unethical. When you say "visibly falling apart", I think you mean that they haven't been painted and aesthetically maintained - that is not the same as saying that they are structurally unsound, or couldn't be restored. The vast majority of the heritage built fabric on Smith Street is in very good condition and could be retained and reused without the need to lose the street appeal and built fabric of what is one of the most significant heritage streets in the nation. Building apartments may or may not irrevocably damage the heritage of Smith Street, but it is of little relevance to whether or not these buildings can be maintained, restored and celebrated. The heritage buildings we have currently function well, are well used and are valuable in their own right - there is no requirement for additional "investment" by building apartments in / on these structures in order to ensure their survival any more than there is for the terrace houses in the neighbouring back streets. If anything, it is the other way around - any loss of built fabric in heritage environments risks degrading the very thing that drives the economic activity of the area where development is occurring.

johnproctor's picture

Heritage overlays only require heritage to be taken into account as part of a permit application. They do not in and of themselves require that the building (or facade) is maintained as it stands. As it happens the City of Yarra tends to be very protective of heritage at the time of development but in the meantime they have no power to coerce maintenance and the reality is that most buildings are only maintained to the extent that the owner can get value out of that maintenance.

a failing precinct leads to crumbling buildings - this is most evident on Johnston Street in this area but most of Melbourne's heritage shopping strips the ornamental features of the shop fronts are slowly being eroded particularly above hte roofline on the frontage.

Where does the investment come from? either from developments like those we are talking about i.e. redevelopment of hte building itself - or from the retail investment that comes with the gentrification of the area which is reliant on increasing apartment numbers in the area 'somewhere' else.

here are some examples of buildings on Johnston Street that are losing the defining aspects of their heritage architecture by lack of maintenance, restoration and renewal. Who is going to rebuild the ornamental facade features above the roofline on these buildings?:

Bilby's picture

Actually, John, somewhat ironically, the historic bakery building on Johnston street (now a backpackers) has been restored by the owner since we had this discussion a few months back! And no, they didn't need to develop any further storeys on top to achieve this outcome. They just put up scaffolding, hired a good painting and rendering company to do the job - and hey presto! One restored heritage building. Good on them!

Owen Harris's picture

I am the owner who has been quoted here. I have several issues to raise:

1. Overlooking - you have completely missed the two balconies that will directly overlook the apartments in my building - one is for apartment 504 and the other is the communal terrace - also on level 5. Given the size of the apartments, I can only assume that the communal terrace will be well used at all hours. Additionally, this is simply bad design - both these terraces could have been moved to the northern side of the building which would be better for both developments.

2. "Why attempt to hold Neometro to account when the rest of the industry does not operate to that standard? "
This is precisely why Neometro should be held to account. It's true there is no legal obligation to inform buyers, but there is a clear ethical obligation. In addition to this, Neometro proclaim to be a "developer with a conscience"
I personally DID know about this project in the early planning stages having seen the yellow council board accidentally (after deposits on my own building were paid but prior to settlement). I approached Neometro on MANY occassions, asking for them to pass on my details to the other buyers. They repeatedly refused. The only reason they gave was that they "didn't feel comfortable acting as a conduit between buyers". Council only received 4 objections, so the matter was not heard by a full council tribunal. I can only assume that this would not have been the case if more buyers in my building were made aware.
What hope have we got in planning a livable city if behavior like this from Neometro is not only tolerated but accepted as normal?

It is also my belief that the laws around advertising new developments must change. If developers are currently required to inform all affected parties - this surely should include all committed buyers of developments under construction adjacent/nearby.

3, Development itself - there is a gross error in the planning application. The "existing masonry structure" depicted throughout the plans does not actually exist. This structure is designed to house the lift well and is shown right at the perimeter of the lot. In actual fact, there is only a very small and dilapidated brick structure which exists to a significantly lower height. This completely changes the impact of the building compared to what currently exists. This issue was pointed out to council but overlooked.

4. Finally, I certainly do support appropriate development But I disagree entirely with JohnProctor above. Fitzroy/Collingwood cannot sustain such increases in population. There are very few open spaces already. Not everyone wants to go to a hipster bar or pub and the tram system is already overloaded in peak times with several trams often passing - too full to even stop and allow anyone onboard.

Bilby's picture

John Proctor, I still fail to follow your argument. If the buildings you show were developed tomorrow, what makes you conclude that they would be properly restored by the developer? If anything, the recent (illegal) demolition of one third of a heritage listed row of shops in Johnston St. just goes to how how unwilling developers can be to restore historic buildings:
Even the Patterson Emporium Building (Panama Bar) on Smith Street, which might otherwise be held up as an example of just the sort of "investment" in heritage buildings you wish to illustrate, could hardly be described as a historic restoration. Instead, we now have a faux (and very much historically incorrect) 1920s reproduction parapet on this once stunning urn-of-the-century structure. Likewise, Neometro has made no attempt whatsoever to reinstate the once glorious timber windows on the top floor of the original building (the Panama Bar itself). Here is an image from 1905 of the original structure for comparison with the image at the top of this story:

So, this is actually a perfect example of significant "investment" in apartments, resulting in little investment in the historic restoration of a once grand Smith Street icon - just a poor patch up paint job and an incorrect and rather bland parapet addition. In my view, it would have been better to do nothing than leave us with a building that actively misrepresents the past.

Also, the buildings shown in your google maps links (with the exception of the two little terrace shops near Hoddle Street) are not 'crumbling'. Yes, they have lost some render details and parapet sections - all of which is easily repairable. The buildings appear to be in sound structural condition overall, and could do with some restoration and reconstruction of lost sections (perhaps - although not really necessary as they still read well as original and generally intact Victorian buildings). So, again - development is a red herring, it is no more likely to result in a better "heritage" building than the intrinsic incentive to maintain one's valuable investment were it better "protected" with appropriate conditions (including a prohibition on facadism).

johnproctor's picture

two comments on above.

re: Owens comments on full trams and Fitzroy/Collingwood closed for business... if you close Fitzroy/Collingwood this development will head elsewhere. In heading elsewhere it will invariably be beyond Fitzroy/Collingwood because one would assume that if its fair to say Fitz/Coll is closed for business then why shouldn't the people of Carlton/Port Melbourne and everywhere else in the inner city have the same right? All that means is those people will be living in the middle or outer suburbs will be on those same full trams and trains (or in their cars) passing through Fitz/Coll anyway.

The answer isn't to close the doors (and especially rich option coming from someone living in a newly built 6th storey apartment) but to improve the infrastructure. And I don't just mean the physical transport infrastructure but the soft infrastructure as well which Council should be able to do over time with an increased rates base. Eg. putting in more pocket parks as they have done on Oxford Street, building more libraries as they are doing on St Georges Road in North Fitzroy etc.

Bob Carr said Sydney was full in the mid 90's and they had a lost decade of economic and population growth. Its not something I'd advocate for here.

Bilby - cities aren't 'heritage villages' like Sovereign Hil aimed at depicting a particular moment in time for ever and a day. If the people who built many of these buildings (lets call them developers as thats what they were at the time ) were told that it still stands 100 years later even though in many cases it's layout, structures and other behind the facade features are no longer fit for purpose they'd have a right laugh at us.

I'll keep waiting for a landowner with a heart to reinvigorate those three buildings I linked to on Johnston Street without getting any additional floorspace out of the development. I expect I'll be waiting a long time.

I also go past the buidling with the age article you've referred to every day and the development is an improvement on what was there and aside from the few people who actually noticed it had been demolished most wouldn't know it had every been completely demolished.

As an aside and while I'm writing I always laugh at this obsession with height. Most of the tallest buildings along most of our inner suburban shopping strips are still heritage structures. Whether it is the 3 storey pub (Swan Hotel - Swan Street), or the old industrials (Jam Factory), or the town halls or retail emporiums. Height is ok if its a heritage building that appeals to a certain set of peoples tastes but not if it is a modern building that doesn't appeal to that group of peoples tastest (and that group is the wealthy, educated group with time (and money) on their hands to make noise about what displeases them)

In the case of hte Panama development - (which Owen was happy to buy into) I actually am not a big fan. I think it does take too much away from the building it sits on top off. Greater set backs from Smith Street would have been good. Oh well - the pre-purchase from 'close Fitzroy and Collingwood to development' Owen ensured it was built.

Owen Harris's picture

John, you have completely ignored my three main points and entirely twisted my least relevant point.

I maintain my position that a poorly designed development with 28 bedsits is not a benchmark for which the neighborhood should be aiming.

Bilby's picture

JohnProctor - I'm not sure you're serious! You haven't responded to my comments, really. First of all, what are your views on the 229 Smith Street development, as discussed above. You can't criticise my arguments by referring to a different development example, and then avoid responding to my correction of this, surely? Secondly, you have again made a straw man argument above. I never advocated for a "'heritage village' like Sovereign Hill (which, by the way, is not a 'heritage village' - it is a fabricated fiction of a village designed to illustrate aspects of historic Ballarat). In fact, I am very much in favour of high quality design and development, and quite enjoy tall buildings. What I don't enjoy is poor planning outcomes and backwater attitudes towards our now increasingly rare heritage precincts and buildings. Other great cities of the world manage to integrate their heritage precincts into the metropolis as a whole without the idiotic destruction of the best of the city's past and the loss of culture, aesthetic enjoyment and substantial economic benefits that accompany it. Smith Street is without a doubt one of the finest heritage streets in Melbourne, located within one of the most significant examples of a diverse, early Victorian suburb in the world. I am a firm believer in quality adaptive reuse projects. I never said developers should expect no 'additional floorspace', I merely argued that linking the building of apartments with the preservation of heritage buildings doesn't follow. There are a range of ways that these buildings could be reused, adapted and restored, but to argue that allowing developers to gut them, build large structures on top and remove much of the crucial interior built fabric will somehow 'save' our threatened heritage is naive at best. Developers on the whole are interested in profit, not high quality heritage outcomes, as the Neometro example illustrates. If you like multi-storey additions on top of gutted Victorian facades and believe that this is a great heritage outcome, I accept that. But I can't accept that compromising Melbourne's most important and fascinating heritage precincts is the only way to accommodate the housing that Melbourne needs. Frankly, even the 10,000 apartments currently scheduled to be built in Yarra represents a drop in the ocean in terms of the housing required for Melbourne - and an elite drop at that. We could severely limit the impact of development in our best remaining inner city heritage areas (infill sites excepted) and still achieve the density we need. Density and retaining urban heritage are not mutually exclusive, as many cities around the world (including New York) have demonstrated. And finally, the only reason "most people wouldn't know" that the demolished building referred to on Johnston St. is not original, is that the owner was forced by council to rebuild it exactly as it had been before. Fortunately, it was a rendered brick building, so it was possible to replicate the look of the original almost exactly. The issue for me is not whether a development represents "an improvement on what was there before", but whether it is the best outcome, given the economic, cultural and social conditions of the time, that can be achieved for the site and the civic context more generally. And in many, many cases, I just think we settle for second rate development outcomes too quickly, given what is at stake.

Mark Baljak's picture

Owen, you make some good points, this one though

>>> Finally, I certainly do support appropriate development But I disagree entirely with JohnProctor above. Fitzroy/Collingwood cannot sustain such increases in population. There are very few open spaces already. Not everyone wants to go to a hipster bar or pub and the tram system is already overloaded in peak times with several trams often passing - too full to even stop and allow anyone onboard.

In a micro sense, this stands up yet in an overall Melbourne sense, if the inner city can't cope with additional population where are the masses to go? Could it be suburbs such as Collingwood/Fitzroy are the right suburbs for increased density/population and it's just a matter of infrastructure such as PT catching up? Or state/local government receiving a boot in the arse to hasten this...

Owen Harris's picture

Clearly state and local councils must get off their arses and start investing in infrastructure. However, if you fill the city with cheap and nasty developments like 229 and 237 Smith then there wont be any problem of "the masses". People wont want to live in Melbourne. And that includes me.

Alastair Taylor's picture

What about the - to use your words - "cheap and nasty" houses built on the edge of the sprawl-belt? Why do people keep buying and living in them?

I think the answer somewhat relies on that we're all different and don't all buy or want to live in a property for the same reason.

Nicholas Harrison's picture

Owen your hypocrisy is breathtaking. You move into a brand new six storey development and then state that any further new development should be restricted because Fitzroy/Collingwood cannot sustain such increases in population.

I am not sure why you didn't think that the lot next door to yours, with exactly the same planning controls as your property, would not be developed in almost exactly the same manner at some time in the future?

You also seem to be saying that you only want large, expensive apartments built in Fitzroy/Collingwood? How well does that fit in with the cultural heritage of the area?

Generally residents who complain about small apartments being built in an area are more concerned about the 'type' of people they think live in small apartments rather than any altruistic concern for their amenity.

Owen Harris's picture

Nicholas you have also misunderstood me. I am all for high density, where appropriate. But of course there should be restrictions. That's the essential point of planning and the very idea of the planning system.

What I object to is a poorly planned development where planning documents contain gross errors, affected parties are not notified and the end result is micro-apartments with no amenity which then set a precedent for the neighborhood and the city that is unsustainable.

johnproctor's picture

Bilby. I think we are agreed - it would be ideal if new developments treated existing heritage with respect including maintaining as much of the internal fabric as possible. I also agree that urban infill sites (like Victoria Gardens precinct) can carry a lot of the load for inner city redevelopment. We are also agreed that developers are all about making money.
You may have noted that I did say some buildings will get fancy new shop fitouts without the uplift in floor area or floors above. Its happened to most of the new cafe's etc along Smith Street recently. This redevelopment still largely relies on an increase in development 'somewhere' in the Smith Street precinct.
Where we disagree is the level at which we can, should and the broader community wants to retain 'heritage' features. The broader community probably thinks facadism is fine as its the shopfront they find pretty. I think we should keep the four walls (and probably some internal ones too) to keep the fabric of the existing building and in particular the natural materials (brick, wood, stone) used in heritage buildings (compared to pre-fab concrete walls in new buildings). Maybe its 'the first 10 metres' for osme of hte other internal elements as well - eg. pressed metal ceilings in many shops on Smith. But whether that can be achieved I doubt it.

Bilby and Owen Re: 229 Smith. For me it doesn't look like a particularly nice design. But the planning scheme doesn't say anything about it being 'nice', ultimately design is subjective and even when using a DDO to guide design outcomes often Council's can only guide setbacks, heights, materials and other 'factual' elements. In terms of the footprint (height, setbacks, window orientation etc) of the development I don't particularly have a problem wiht it especially given the footprint of the adjoining development of the panama building which seems to be very similar. Owen - just because your building got in first doesn't really affect my view of whose responsibility it is to protect against overlooking - as others said above - didn't you think to yourself "if I can have a window here, someone could have a window there"?

And finally regarding the 'poorly planned micro apartments' as Nicholas Harrison said - just because you wouldn't want to live in that small an apartment doesn't mean someone else wouldn't want to. Maybe they are 'undesirable' though? Given many people poitn to the gentrification of these areas as meaning the loss of the social mix and boheiams and forcing out the poor that made the area so interesting and popular in the first place - I personally would have thought that a mix of dwelling sizes across the precinct (not in individual developments) including presumably relatively affordable micro-apartments would be a good thing to keep some of that diversity alive.

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